Eight Things You Should Never Say When Buying a House

Seeing something that you love (or hate) can cause you to blurt out all kinds of things, some of which you may regret. Because while you can (and should) at all times be upfront with your real estate agent, you might not want to be quite so forthright around the sellers (or the listing agents working for them).

So before you decide to step into a house and stick your foot in your mouth, heed these top things never to say to sellers or their real estate agents when you are shopping for a new home.

 

  1. “This is my dream house!”

Have you ever played poker? Well then you should know that if you would like to maintain a strong negotiating position, you should never tip your hand… Interested parties who express their unchecked passion for a house are shooting themselves.

These are the types of things which can help sellers obtain more cash from the buyers. This is due to the fact that they really know how much this home really means to them. Any negotiating strategies and all discussions about the home are best left in private. Saying a few nice things about the home is not bad—just do not gush. Gushing=bad.

  1. “That couch is hideous”

Do not tell the sellers—or any real estate agent present—that they’ve poor taste in furniture or décor. Their style may not suit yours, but that is no reason to insult them. If they hear you bad-mouthing their curtains or rug, then they may just select another buyer.

  1. “I can afford to spend X”

In spite of the fact that it is definitely a good idea for the prospective buyers to discover just how much they can afford, buyers should keep the information strictly between them and the Realtor.

Prospective home buyers should not address with the seller or the seller’s agent anything concerning their ability to pay a full price offer or financing. This hinders the ability to negotiate the best price for the house. If you are asked, you should say that finding a home that is fairly priced is what matters to you more than the amount you can afford.

  1. “I cannot wait to get rid of that”

Even if you are thinking that the home will be perfect once you get your hands on it, do not let on. If the new buyers are planning to remodel a house in which somebody raised their family and has many memories, the buyer should not say that wall color is terrible—cannot wait to repaint this place or I cannot wait to tear that swing set down. The seller can simply reject their offer or come back asking for more cash upon hearing that somebody wants to completely remake the home where they made lifetime memories.

  1. “Why are you selling?”

Yes, you might want to find out why the sellers have decided to sell their house. Keep it to yourself! It is considered poor taste to ask, and it might just open a can of worms. You should never ask the sellers why they’re selling the property, there might be personal reasons such as job relocation or divorce or something worse- none of it is your business. Creating a possibly uncomfortable state of affairs will not help you down the road, in case a bidding war emerges.

  1. “What’s it really like to live here?”

Sure, you may want to get the inside scoop, however that does not mean that you should interrogate anyone. Do not ask the neighbors personal questions. You can talk to the neighbors and give them a chance to open up, but do not push if they are not talkative. If you end up moving into the neighborhood, do you want the first impression they have of to be that of a spy or a pest?

  1. “You will never get that price!”

Although you may be thinking that you would not give them an X amount for the home, as a buyer it is best for you to keep your opinions and thoughts to yourself. Even if the buyer thinks that the house is highly priced, it might be within range of similar houses in the neighborhood. This leads us to our next point….

  1. “I will give you [a very lowball offer] for this home, whaddaya say?”

Do not ask your real estate agent to submit several lowball offers. You should take your real estate agent’s advice when it comes to the pricing- because it is never wise to insult the person whose house you are trying to purchase and you do not want to appear as a not so serious buyer.

Clean up Your Credit Score to Buy a New House

Buying a house is a dream come true for most of us. It is a practical and a financially wise decision as well. No wonder the real estate market is ever buzzing with activity this year. However, as much as we love the idea of buying a house, the high amount of money involved can make some of us weary about the process. The most basic step in buying a house is planning your budget. Based on income and savings, one can get an estimate of the price of house they can afford. A majority of home buyers look for financial assistance from banks or other lending institutions to purchase their house. In such cases, along with Income and savings, credit scores also play a huge role in deciding whether a loan can be extended to an individual, as well as the amount of loan. Real estate agents can also help you decide the budget and find a property that fits within it.

Check your Scores

Credit scores are a way to measure the “credit-worthiness” of any individual i.e. whether the person will be able to pay back the loan on time. Your scores is based on your credit history, the number of credit lines and loans held by the individual, weather payments for those have been made on time, the amount of outstanding balance one is carrying on other loans and credit cards etc. So the first thing to know before you decide on a home is whether or not you have a good credit score. If you have been paying all your outstanding bills and installments on time then you most likely should. It’s still always good idea to check, never assume.

Identify your weak spots

There are three main credit Bureaus in the US – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. While they have some differences in the parameters on which they base their scores, the scores from all three bureaus are typically pretty close. You can get your credit report from one or all of the bureaus by paying a small fee. Review your report well, especially the section that talks about adverse accounts. This section lists down the accounts where you may have missed payments, defaulted etc. If there is a specific credit card where you have missed a payment more often than others, make a note of it. Similarly, check your average outstanding balance against your credit limit. If the ratio is too high, make a note. Also, check if any of the entries don’t add up since sometimes, even the Bureau can get their information wrong.

Correct some mistakes, undo others

For the accounts identified where you have been missing timely payments, it is time to buckle up and make sure you begin paying your bills on time. As you get regular with your payments, your score will start improving over a period of few months. In case you have had one or two late payments, you can also call the company that has registered the late payment and request them to remove it from your credit record. Most companies willingly do this for those who missed the payment deadline once or at max, twice.Similarly, if you have too many open credit lines with small outstanding balances and can spare some money, then take the extra effort to pay all dues and close these credit lines.

Request a credit limit increase

If on some credit lines you have been regular with your payments but your ratio of outstanding balance to the credit limit is high, then a simple way to make this ratio look better is to request that your bank or financial institution increase your credit limit. However, remember that a credit limit increase only be accepted if you have displayed good payment behavior. Also, make sure to not exhaust the increased limit because remember, this limit extension is to reduce your ratio and increasing expenses will defeat the purpose.

Raise Disputes, if any

Lastly, if you have identified any entries that appear incorrect in your report, send a dispute letter to the bureau and provide them all information and documents to prove your case. This could take some time, but correcting records can help boost your score.

Improving scores can take some time and hence it is advisable to begin early. Even if you are not planning to buy a house right away, it is good to begin patiently working on your scores so that by the time you are ready, your scores are ready too.

 

Top 8 Open House Mistakes a Seller Can Make

open space with fire place

When you’re ready to sell your house, you will need to get it in its best possible condition, especially in today’s competitive environment. An open house presents an opportunity to showcase the best features of your home and allows the potential buyers to get a feel for the property. If you ‘re a fist time home seller, you may think of the open house as the point at which your Realtor waits until you leave, turns into a magician and with a flick of his/her wrist, completely transforms your home into something out of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing.

But here is the truth of it

Your real estate agent is not practicing wizardry on the side. And you aren’t completely free of responsibility when it comes to the open house. In fact, although you aren’t present for the open house (and you never, ever should be, if you want to sell the home), there are still quite a few ways that you can mess it up and drive away potential buyers.

These eight things could very negatively impact your chances of having a successful open house—and, potentially, the house sale.

  1. Leaving your pets at home

Pets bring a lot of joy into our lives. Nevertheless, they can be a real problem when you’re showing your home. This is true for several reasons. Logistically pets make things difficult because you will have to keep them separate from the potential buyers, who might not like pets and certainly cannot picture themselves living in a house that once housed cats or dogs. This means that you will have to block off areas of your home, a real no-no in an open house. Pets also behave unpredictably. The last thing you want is your pet leaving his/her “mark” on the floor right in front of the viewers or even scaring the potential buyers. Which could also prevent them from viewing rooms and prove to be a distraction overall.

Take your pets to a friend’s for the day when you’re showing your house. You should also do your best to eliminate any signs of pet habitation, including bedding, toys, smells and stains. Selling a house with pets takes extra consideration and care. There are some home buyers who will see any signs of pets as a complete turnoff. This is definitely one of the top open house mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Ignoring your kitchen needs 

You may be surprised by how many home owners ignore their kitchens when selling their house. Putting the dirty dishes in the sink doesn’t make them invisible. Even if the rest of your house is staged to perfection, a repugnant kitchen will turn off the potential buyers—and that goes for the dishwasher too. The potential buyers will most likely want to investigate the fridge and open the dishwasher during the open house, hence it’s vital that you prepare your home accordingly: Clean and store the dishes, and remove any smelly food from your fridge. You should consider removing any kitchen appliance that can be neatly stored instead of being left on counter tops. The less clutter, the more spacious and inviting your kitchen will feel. If it’s an appliance that is used daily, such as a toaster or coffeepot, be sure to wipe it clean after each use.

You should also ensure that you check out and clean the other rooms in your home, even those that you think the potential buyers will not bother checking out, such as the closets garage or laundry room. Because guess what? They totally will.

You aren’t selling part of your home; you are selling your entire home, hence you should ensure that everything the potential buyers will see during the open house is in showcase condition.

  1. Not hiding your dirty bath towels

Keeping the bath towels you have used (and intend to use again) tucked out of the way in a closet benefits you two-fold: Not only does it make the bathroom look well staged, but it also keeps them free of germs and dirt from the day’s parade of viewers. Instead, swap in a clean set of decorative hand and bath towels for each open house. You do not want (people) wiping their dirty hands on the bath towels you wipe your body with.

  1. Cleaning solo

When you think about how much money a house actually costs, it’s easy to understand why people expect cleanliness in an open house. Surprisingly, not everybody meets the mark when it comes to a clean house. If you have to hire a cleaning service to get the job done, do so.

Professional cleaners will scrub all the “out of the way” spots you may miss (think switch plates and baseboards), they can also help eliminate messes and odors that go back years. Preparing for showings is particularly important when there are potentially a large number of visitors dropping by for a look. Showing dirty, messy homes to potential buyers is by far the greatest mistake most sellers make when holding an open house.

  1. Not getting a second opinion

After you have cleaned and staged your house, a blunt tongued neighbor can be a blessing. Over time, you can easily get used to odors and smells that may linger in your home, even after a thorough cleaning. You need a neutral third party who’ll tell you like it’s, not what you would like to hear. So do not be offended if the third party tells you that your place stinks— literally or figuratively. You aren’t in a position to be all ego, you are trying to sell your home — and that is what you should focus on.

  1. Not maintaining the yard

The front yard is the first thing the guests see, so ensure it is spotless. You want the potential buyers to focus on the curb appeal of your home — not your collection of yard tools. Additionally, objects strewed every which way can also be dangerous. You should also make sure that the grass is trimmed nicely and any bushes or flowers are in good shape. And unless it’s trash day, keep your bins out of sight. Nothing turns potential buyer off faster than a pile of trash and the thought of potential yard work.

  1. Dirty exterior

Depending on where you live, the exterior of your house may gather a significant amount of grime as the seasons turn. You might not have noticed it if it occurred gradually, but visitors to the open house are sure to see the mildew and mold on the siding, the dingy windows and the clogged gutters. Like the home’s interior, the exterior should be fresh and clean looking if you want to impress the potential buyers.

  1. Photos, religious art, drugs and politics need to go

When the potential buyers walk into your home, they should picture their family living in the house, not yours. They do not need to see your family photos or be able to tell your religious or political views as they walk through the house.

There is a reason stagers depersonalize your house. Certainly, they want the buyers to visualize themselves living within its walls—but they also want to remove any ammunition that may be used against you during the negotiating process. One of the places to look is the medicine cabinet, which should be emptied during the open house.

The same goes for family photos and things such as canes and walkers: For instance, if you are elderly, they may consider underbid your price under the assumption that you can no longer be able to take care of your house. Keeping the potential buyers from learning your personal details is not just good staging

What Is a Home Warranty, and Do You Need One?

Warranty process information concept on blackboard with a hand pointing on it.

Owning a home is a great achievement but at the same time, it comes with responsibilities. Repairs & regular maintenance are some of the things that you will now have to deal with as a home owner. However, many first time home owners are not always prepared for some of the issues they may run into with their utilities or even housing structure. For example you could wake up one morning to find out that your water heater has broken down and it’s 32 degrees outside. Everything in your house has a life cycle so its good to be prepared when things need fixing or even replacing.

What do you do when such things happen?

Many homeowners may not have the experience necessary to do small repairs, especially when they come at unexpected times. Some individuals may be lucky enough to have a nearby family member who is knowledgeable in these sort of incidence. Others may know an electrician or a plumber but the whole process of getting bids and figuring out what the real cause of the problem is, let alone getting it solved, takes a lot of time. The best thing to do as a new home owner is to have a home warranty.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty works almost like an extended warranty or insurance policy you would buy for your flat screen TV or Smartphone. It covers the costs for replacing or repairing almost anything that may at some point cease functioning in your home. Typically, payment plans range from $300 to $900 per year.

The only thing that you will have to do is contact your home warranty provider either by phone or by submitting a ticket online. The warranty provider will then contact the company or contractor they have a contract with. The company will then send someone to solve the problem by either fixing it or replacing the malfunctioning item all together. All the repair or replacement costs will be covered by your home warranty premium and you will only be required to make a co-payment for every incident.

Who should buy a home warranty?

Home warranties are especially good for first time Millennial and Gen X/Y home buyers who are usually accustom to renting. These former renters may often be so inclined to call the landlord every time a problem arises. Your new home warranty provider will essentially take over the role of your former landlord. These home owners often work for long hours and may not have the time or energy to call around and find an electrician or a plumber to get appropriate estimates from. Having to wait through the 12-4pm window for the repair person to come to your house may also not be so appealing.

Repairs whether expected or unexpected may be too costly and you may have to go through a rather lengthy process before you get the problem resolved. You can avoid having to deal with this process on your own by setting up a home warranty.

Home warranties are not limited to only Gen X/Y and other first time home owners. Any home owner at any age can buy a home warranty any time. So there is some flexibility when it comes to purchasing your own home warranty.

If your home has been inspected, then you know the life expectancy & the condition of most of your utilities. Generally, most appliances break down after around 15 or 20 years and you don’t want to deal with several malfunctioning things at the same time.

Before you do purchase a home warranty however, it is advisable to shop around and compare the various premiums & coverage plans valuable to make sure that you get a good deal. Remember that an older home will definitely need more coverage.

Investors who may not want to be doing repairs for their tenants should also consider home warranties. This should especially be considered by real estate investors who are not as experienced with the typical amount of upkeep a property will require. A warranty will also prove very useful if you don’t have a network of repair people available to help make the repairs. A home warranty will keep both you and your tenants satisfied and happy.

From Renting to Owning and how to Accelerate the Process

Real estate agent with house model and keys

While renting a home might seem the easiest way to manage your finances, actually owning the property is much more beneficial. The initial outlay is going to be quite steep, but the guarantee of ROI over the years will help validate such a steep investment. Being a renter means that you have to cope with bills that are not contributing to ownership in any way, shape or form. Living in a place you call yours allows you to lock in expenses related to housing and set yourself up for a comfortable future over time. However,the big question is, how do you get it done?

A tough scenario for renters

In the recent past, experts have pointed out the development of some are referring to as “the rent affordability crisis”. It is essentially a situation where there are lower vacancies for renters currently available. This is compounded by the fact that developers are not constructing as many new rental properties as they used to. This of course correlates to a rising demand, and a scramble for what is out there. This increase in demand coupled with reduced availability will also result in an increase in rates over time. In the next several years, rent appreciation rates will trump home appreciation rates.

When buying becomes cheaper than renting

Jonathan Smoke of Realtor.com argues that housing is a core element of how well we live and what our levels of satisfaction are. Having a home impacts your general state of well being. Home ownership correlates very positively with outlook, and quality of living. As the cost of rent goes up year after year, those who are dreaming of one day owning a homes may actually end up trapped in a difficult position.

While you choose to rent you are minimizing your possible contribution to a longterm investment. You’ll encounter minimal opportunity for saving to purchase a home of your own.

Currently, 85% of the American renters consider themselves to have a “huge rent bill”. However, what is even more interesting is that people in over 75% of the country can certainly buy at an overall cheaper rate than they can rent for. At this point, the most obvious question, of course, is; why aren’t these frustrated renters buying?

What options do you have?

The problem in the current market is lack of information regarding just how much enough is in terms of down payments and credit scores. If you take time to inspect the factors that enable individuals to purchase a home, you’ll realize there are a lot more people who are actually qualified to buy a home, they just don’t know it.

An example of something that may prevent someone from looking into homeownership is the down payment. A large number of people don’t know just how much of a down payment is required to actually own a home. According to recent statistics, it is actually very easy to save up to the 3% required in most areas. This only takes a maximum of two years under a structured and disciplined saving plan. Turns out you might have already saved enough for your next home without even knowing it!

Saving for your next home may not be as difficult as you think. Sure, identifying a good mortgage plan is strenuous for all of us but when you know what to look for, things can turn out smoother than you expected. You are going to be thinking about your down payment all the time, so there is a need to draw out a plan according to your level of income and the percentage you can save off of that. Keep in mind that the percentages you might need to put down typically vary across the board, depending on your approach and the type of mortgage you are looking for.

Do not allow rising rent rates to postpone your plan to buy a home. If you are having a difficult time doing the required research, talk to an agent and have them help you. Real estate agents can help you understand the rates available in your market, as well as offer you first hand experience relating to the way things may eventually pan out for you. Always be on the lookout for attractive deals and make your move at the right time, with the right information.

Relocation Trends From 2015 and What to Expect in 2016

The happy family  at repair and relocation. The family planing  to accommodation on a background of boxes

2015 is behind us now, but there are trends we saw develop in the real estate industry, that certainly reflect key focus points for 2016. One of these key areas of conversation is relocation, where people moved within the united states. So who moved? Where did they move to? How much money did they pay to facilitate this moves and what motivated their decision to relocate? What were the general patterns in terms of distances covered?

Why Americans moved in 2015

People moved away from existing homes because they were looking for cheaper options, convenient locations and new environments. There were also those who moved because they wanted better quality housing even if it meant having to pay more. Reports also indicate that some Americans left rentals in the search of locations where they could buy their own homes. Thats one of the more significant trends to focus on now that we’re in 2016.

Some people chose to move in order to start their own households. This includes those who got married and young people who wanted to leave their parents’ homes in the pursuit of independence and privacy.

In other instances, people secured jobs away from their homes and chose to relocate to be closer to their new areas of work. The jobs included new challenges or transfers within the same line of work. Most of the movement in this category involved those taking new jobs altogether.

There were other less common reasons for relocation, and these included the search for new environments or better schools and colleges.

What were the patterns of movement?

The West and Southern areas of the country had more destinations than any other area, with an interesting 3 out of the 5 routes of movement ending in California. Florida and Texas rounded off the remaining available routes.

States to which most people moved

California topped this list, followed by Texas, Washington, North Carolina, with Colorado coming fifth. Others in the top 10 include Oregon, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina and Nevada in that order.

Where did most moves emanate from?

New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania took a huge hit in terms of movements to the outside, with other states in the top 10 being Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and Ohio.

Who moved within their own states?

Those who relocated within cities and towns in the same states did so out of a need to find better places without having to move too far away from home. Below is a look at the states affected, in descending order:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Ohio

Here is a look at the cities individuals moved to, from the ones that received the most people to the ones that took in the least:

  • Denver
  • Seattle
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Houston
  • San Francisco
  • Dallas
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles

And below is a ranking of the cities from which people moved, from the most affected to the least:

  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Pittsburgh
  • Milwaukee
  • Baltimore
  • Philadelphia
  • Arlington, Virginia
  • Minneapolis
  • Columbus, Ohio

Additional facts

  • Professionals in teaching, business, health and the military moved the most in 2015.
  • The average moving costs ranged from $2600 to $4400
  • June was by far the busiest month of the year in terms of movement.
  • A huge chunk of people (60.6%) moved out of state.
  • July 31 was the most packed day of the year, where people moved the most compared to any other date.
  • Only a paltry 9.6% of those who relocated made use of vehicles.
  • Most people chose to move either on Friday or Saturday.
  • Those living in units with one or two bedrooms moved most, some in search of bigger houses and compounds.
  • Among the areas from which people moved, the Midwest was the most affected as people sought better working places and cheaper residential areas.
  • While there was plenty of movement in many areas Across the US, the only significant increase in general population resulting from relocation was the south.

The statistics above show a growing pattern when it comes to movement in the population,with people choosing different parts of the country for general reasons like the cost of real estate and standards of living. Other decisions were made based purely on individual preferences among different age groups.

A Home Buyer’s Guide to Saving for a Down Payment

 

Home Mortgage Down Payment A gray house brown card and calculator on stone background with text Down Payment

According to builder.com, first time home buyers in the United States take nearly eight years to save for a down payment for their dream home. The time frame is derived by factoring in the amount a renter pays for housing in each state and the required 10% down payment. Under this approach, buyers in South Dakota state take around 3.5 years to save for a down payment, which is the shortest compared to other states.

Another study by Realty Trac shows that it takes an average of 12.5 years for a new buyer in the United State to save for a 20% down payment. The study is based on a personal saving rate of 5.6% and the current home median home prices. Given that most first time home buyers are young adults with earnings below the national median salary, they would have to wait until they are 42 to afford a home.

However, the same savings can be made within two years in the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae 3% down payment plan. Under this program, it takes buyers in states such as North Dakota as little as one year to save for the down payment. The Freddie and Fannie plan is geared towards enabling first-time home buyers and low-income borrowers with little savings to afford the down payment.

To qualify for this program, you’ll need a credit rating of at least 620 and offer a full documentation of their assets, income, and job status. Also, the prospective first time home buyers must participate in borrower education programs and have a private mortgage insurance plan to qualify for the loan. A buyer can take advantage of the Home Possible Advantage plan provided that the co-borrower is a new buyer.

How a real estate agent can help 

With the assistance of a real estate agent, first time home buyers can negotiate having the seller fully or partly cover the closing costs. Given their years of experience in the market, the real estate agents can identify hidden costs and advise on the best options for home financing.

Here are some of the ways first time home buyers can boost their down payment savings.

Clear the credit card debt 

For home buyers with credit card debt, making monthly interest payments on the debt and setting aside some funds for the down payment can be a hassle. Clearing any credit card debts will enable you to increase your saving portion and reduce the amount of time it takes to make the down payment.

Squeeze your budget 

Keeping track of your spending habits will enable you minimize unnecessary spending and increase your savings. With a goal in your mind, you will be able to track your finances and increase the down payment savings.

Consider a tax free saving account 

A tax-free saving account will enable you to enjoy tax benefits on your down payment savings, you’ll then be able to make payments within the shortest time. A consultation with a financial advisor will enable you to identify the best saving account for your down payment plan.

Be aware of your priorities

Being aware of your priorities means being able to forego instant gratification for a more satisfying future reward. Saving for a down payment will require you to cut spending on your wants. If you are used to expensive vacations, you have them to let them go to be able to save for your down payment. Even under the Fannie and Freddie Home Possible Advantage plan, you will still need to make sacrifices to be able to service your loan.

Save automatically

Creating an automatic saving account will ensure that you do not spend your down payment savings on other things. With an automatic saving account, a portion of your direct deposits will automatically be transferred to your saving account without missing.

Final thoughts? 

With proper planning and consultation, first time home buyers will be able to maximize their opportunity and make down payments within the shortest time possible. Learning about the different the ways to boost your savings and getting professional help from a real estate agent, will enable you to attain your dream home within the shortest time possible. Before you jump into a home buying program, always ensure that you have enough information about the deal and other offers in the market.

A Home Insurance Checklist for the New Year

Businessman hand drawing an umbrella above a family concept for protection, security, finance and insurance

As the celebration of a new year has finally come and passed, right after the holidays, many homeowners tend to accidentally neglect various aspects of their home maintenance.

Although some of us may have enjoyed rather warm and pleasant weather this December, January and February will probably be a little different. That means, your home might be vulnerable to cold weather damage if not taken care of properly. Fortunately, with this home maintenance checklist, you’ll have the assurance that your humble abode will be able to combat the big chill ahead.

Test the Alarms

This should be done several times a year, but reminding our fellow homeowners probably won’t hurt. As much as possible, regularly test the carbon monoxide smoke detectors, and don’t forget to check if your security system is up and running the way it should be. The batteries should always be relatively fresh so you can avoid the painful sting of the alert that comes with dying batteries.

If there are kids around the house, there’s never a bad time to talk about an emergency evacuation plan. See to it that they know exactly what to do if fire, earthquake, or any other unforeseeable circumstances present themselves.

Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Inspect the Foundation

The last thing you want to deal with during the cold winter months ahead is ice making its way into a crack in the foundation. This can cause significant structural problems for your home. That’s why it’s very important to take a walk around the house and check for any cracks frequently. Although small cracks are inevitable, they should not be taken for granted and should be sealed right away.

Check the Gutters and Roof

There are still certainly places where the leaves are falling from trees and covering lawns, it’s important to ensure however, that the gutters don’t get neglected. Don’t let the leaves pile up, always try to clear your gutters as soon as possible.

The accumulation of leaves can lead to drainage problems, which means whenever it rains, it will be difficult for the water to go down the sprout and away from the building. Once this happens, the water could force its way into the walls and ceilings of your home.

While checking the gutter, don’t forget to check the roof as well. See to it that the shingles are in good condition and there aren’t any leaks. The roof should be strong and functional so that it would be able to withstand the weight of snow during a storm.

Seal Windows and Doors

Perhaps, the reason why your electric bill is rather high, is because of the air escaping through the gaps around the door frames and windows. As you seal the cracks in the foundation, don’t forget to seal the spaces around the doors and windows too. This will help keep the house warm when it’s cool while saving you money.

The Heating and Cooling Systems Should Be Maintained

While we’re talking about your heating and cooling bills, then you should also know, that it’s highly advisable to inspect and maintain these respective systems as well.

Make it a habit to check if your heating and cooling systems are working the way they should be. Also, it’s better to tackle the repairs while they’re still small, instead of waiting for them to worsen. This should be done by a professional, he should make sure that the vents are clean, and the spaces aren’t obstructed by dirt, or any other types of buildup.

Have a Home Inventory and Review Your Policy

Every new year, brings with it resolutions with hopes that we can be a better person for the coming year. Some may want to be a little more responsible, but how exactly do you go about accomplishing that?

Having a home inventory could help a homeowner prepare for the unknown. If a disaster of some kind occurs, there’s always the risk that you’ll be too distressed to remember how much each of your items costs. So, a complete list of everything you own and the value of each item will definitely come in handy.

Do yourself a huge favor and create this list for the new year. This should be stored in a safe place, and you’ll be thankful that you did.

Aside from that, understanding your insurance policy and being aware of it can greatly benefit you. Insurance can certainly be quite tricky, so the best move would be to hire an agent who will guide you through all the important components if your policy.

So Your House Hasn’t Sold? Advice for 2016

Investment risk and uncertainty in the real estate housing market

The year has drawn to a close, and the property you were trying to sell in 2015 just hasn’t budged. What now? You may naturally be a little disappointed or frustrated, but don’t despair; you still have multiple options. In this article we’ll cover some expert advice on what your next step should be. We will clearly outline your options to help you make the right decision moving into 2016.

Taking your House off the Market

You can easily justify this decision, sometimes its important to understand that the market just isn’t quite right at the moment. Of course in most instances at the right price, any property will sell. So if you are serious about moving you and your family may benefit from re-evaluating your current list price before you consider taking your house off the market. However, if you are considering making some improvements to your home in order to increase its desirability, then taking it off the market for a few months can be a good idea.

Put the money you would be paying for your listing into minor repairs or design improvements that will really boost the appeal of your house. Sometimes just one more unique feature is enough to sell a property, so use your imagination (or the internet) to come up with an idea that will set your property apart. It could be a clever storage concept or a feature wall. Be aware however, that making improvements doesn’t mean you can suddenly bump up the price. There was a reason your house didn’t sell previously, so keep that in mind.

Re-listing your Home

If you are considering re-listing your home with your existing real estate agent, it is worth asking for their advice. They may have a good idea why the home didn’t sell. Again, this may be going back to pricing, which is always a tricky aspect of the home selling process. Your agent will work with you to improve your campaign and bring buyers along.

You need to convince your buyers that your home is worth having. Make sure the pictures on your listing are clear and good quality, really showing the home at its best. If you don’t have the resources it is worth paying a professional photographer to come in and photograph your house. Choose someone with experience in the field who knows how to use light and composition to make rooms appear big and inviting. Make sure the description of your home is detailed and tells the potential buyer all the great features of the property. Describe the advantages of the location and mention the things that drew you to the house in the first place. In your listing, you are not just selling a house but the lifestyle that comes with it as well.

Sell it Yourself?

Maybe you feel like you’re done with real estate agencies altogether. They didn’t sell your house, so you don’t want to pay them more money for another year of failure. Perhaps you think you can do a better job yourself. For sale by owner’ (FSBO) is an option for you.

However, although this option may seem appealing, the time, effort and money that go into planning a marketing strategy to sell a home are actually pretty hefty. You will need to construct the whole campaign yourself and find all the places to list your house. In order to get wide enough coverage to find a buyer you will need to put a lot of effort into running your home selling campaign efficiently.

If you have the time to spare and the expertise to carry this out, then it certainly is feasible. But remember that you are paying an agent to put all the time and effort in for you, as well as dealing with the negotiations with the buyer.

Find a New Agent

Your best bet for selling your home may be to find a new agency to help you. A good agent will be able to review the aspects of your old campaign and make it better this time around. They will work with you to improve the listing and give their expert advice on how to increase chances of a sale. Even if you have been disappointed by a real estate agency in the past, using an agent is always the wisest course of action.

As a Buyer, Should you Write a Letter to the Seller?

businessman is writing a letter or signing a agreement

Your cash payment and non-contingent offer may not be cutting it in a competitive market. Is it a good idea to reach out to the seller via letter? Is it going to help with the ten additional offers they have already received on the property in question? If you are a buyer wondering if this non-conventional means of  outreach to the seller will help, the answer is maybe. However, you have to really consider the context before sending such a letter. When it does work this can be a great way of setting yourself apart as a potential buyer. That being said, there are plenty of situations where it really won’t make too much of a difference.

If you do choose to write the letter, let’s discuss some key points of emphasis to consider.

Who is your audience?

Who exactly is the seller in this situation? If you truly love the home and want to put your best offer forward, you really have to learn as much as possible about the seller. How do you learn about the seller? Your agent will be the best possible bridge you have to the them and their personal life. They speak to the seller’s agent to find out who they are, where they’re from, why they are selling, what their situation is, and so on. In some cases you may consider the use of social media and Google searches to gain some additional insight. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to properly reach out and write a compelling letter to them.

Make an appeal to longer term owners

Sellers that have a family are typically a better audience when it comes to writing a letter. Those who have lived in a home for years, have built memories with their kids and have emotional ties to the house you’re interested in. By eliciting any emotion (obviously positive ones) you will find the letter can help in many situations. These sellers typically want to know who you are as a buyer. Who will be living in their home, making new memories there, and how long do you plan on living in that property. Make an emotional appeal by writing a compelling and heartfelt letter. Let them know you don’t plan on demolishing the home, but rather, living there for years and making new memories while you’re there. All of these positive emotions will help build a tie with the seller.

Don’t waste your time if you’re dealing with investors  

If the owner of the home has simply used it as a rental property for years, a letter typically won’t do much good, as they aren’t very emotionally attached to the house. The bottom line is what investors typically care about. So, it won’t do you much good to tell them how you plan on building a future with your family, these investors simply want to know how much of a profit they can turn when selling the home . If you’re dealing with investors, bypass the letter and simply submit your best offer possible. Since the letter is going to fall on deaf ears, you might as well try and make the best offer you can.

Build a connection  

Do what you can to connect with the seller. When going to an open house look at the art or decor that adorns the walls and furniture. Any connection or tie you can make between yourself and the seller will help and work in your favor. When you connect, you learn who they are and what they like. If you notice trophies or memorabilia in the home, take a moment to discuss it. Discuss your mutual love of sports if you’ve played in the past for example. These ties might help make you a more memorable buyer, and will allow the seller to connect with you on a deeper level when considering offers on the home.

In competitive situations you have to sell yourself as a buyer. So, take note, learn who the seller is, and do your research. With the right seller in a competitive situation, a well written and direct letter to the seller can make a world of difference. In fact, it may be what pushes you over the top when the seller is trying to decide which offer to accept on the home.